• Which Linux Distro do You Use, and Why?

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    #100868

    I’d also include: Which do you recommend (or even install) for family and friends?

    My own answer will follow in a reply to this topic…

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    • #100875

      I recently rambled on about this in another topic, leading to this one, so I’ll quote myself a bit… 🙂

      For this old DOS guy (and Windows guy, from 3.1 through XP, mostly), Ubuntu with a Gnome-ish desktop environment was pretty quickly comfortable.

      in 2009, that was the main Ubuntu itself; when they went to the Unity desktop environment, I moved to Xubuntu, with the XFCE desktop environment. Xubuntu is one of the “official,” first-gen derivatives of ubuntu — part of the immediate family, so to speak. I use it as my main everyday OS on a tower PC and a laptop, and have installed it for friends and family.

      Why Xubuntu (and ubuntu derivatives in general)?

      My xubuntu installations pretty much just do OS tasks, and otherwise stay out of my way. And even eight years ago, the ‘buntus were pretty easy for a PC hobbyist; since then, they’ve gotten closer and closer to an “end-user-grade” OS, in my (admittedly limited) experience. I have anecdotes… 8^j* They’re very good at detecting and supporting the hardware in my ragtag fleet of obsolete and not-quite-obsolete PCs. For figuring out fixes and tweaks, I can draw on a tremendous and eminently searchable archive of answered questions on the various Ubuntu forums– I just try to check the most recent answers first, as techniques change over the years and releases.

      What about applications?

      Most of the applications I use are either the same (Firefox, Thunderbird, Chrome, LibreOffice, etc.) or close enough. For the remainder, I’m currently pushing harder on researching Windows in a virtual machine, and Wine, the compatibility layer (which has also gotten much better the last few years.)

      I’ve also dual-booted with Windows throughout my ubuntu history. However, I’ve found it kinda nice to run a couple of Windows applications (WinSCP and IrfanView) directly in linux via Wine, without the bother of rebooting, and I’d like to see if a virtual machine can let me get a similar experience with a few of the more recalcitrant Windows programs.

       

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    • #100928

      I use Xubuntu for just about all of my daily work. I started with Ubuntu, then moved to Lubuntu, because I wanted a lighter version of Ubuntu; but Lubuntu wasn’t very polished, so I went back to Ubuntu. I then found out about Xubuntu. I switched to that and have never looked back. Here’s why (the reasons are not in any particular order):

      1. Xubuntu is lighter (faster) than Ubuntu. It works well on my 2008 Vista-era machine with 2 GB of RAM — only web surfing is slow on that machine.

      2. Xubuntu has lots of software either already installed or ready to install.

      3. Installs are usually very easy in Xubuntu, and they always work well.

      4. Xubuntu found my printer and installed the driver automatically (or maybe the driver was already built in to Xubuntu). The only thing I had to do was to give it my wifi password.

      5. The Xubuntu interface is a lot like Windows.

      On the negative side:

      1. There is an occasional crash. I don’t know why, but it seems to be related to when I surf the web, because it doesn’t seem to happen when I’m not surfing the web.

      2. I can’t get my scanner to work. (From what I understand, this is common in Linux.)

      3. When I tried to install Xubuntu (and wipe Ubuntu off the drive in the process), Xubuntu wouldn’t install, because there wasn’t enough hard drive space, because Xubuntu had failed to first format (i.e. wipe) the drive. I installed Qubes, which wiped Ubuntu off of the drive. I was then able to install Xubuntu (wiping Qubes off of the drive in the process).

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 10 running on a separate hard drive
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    • #100940

      My Linux of choice today is Linux Mint Cinnamon, followed by Linux Mint Mate, then Xubuntu.

      I started messing with RedHat Linux 9 a long time ago, when had I found a Dummies book on sale with an included disk.  Set up a spare computer with that, and thus began my downward spiral!  🙂

      Then I worked with Fedora Core for a while.  Finally discovered downloadable live distros for CD and DVD.  I have tried many flavors of live Linux, and also installed quite a few of them as VM’s.  A lot of them are coasters now, so using re-recordable media is a way to save!

      A few years ago I needed a good PC host for a Linux VM appliance (pre-configured Fedora with XFCE) used in a class I was taking at the time. My Windows PC was unfortunately not up to the task, so I built a new desktop from scratch and loaded the hard drive with Ubuntu.

      See OSBoxes  http://www.osboxes.org/ for ready-to-use VirtualBox & VMware Linux/Unix guest operating systems.

      I struggled with the Unity desktop in Ubuntu for about a year, then finally threw in the towel on that quirky desktop metaphor.  It got in my way more often than it helped speed things up.  So began my search for the perfect desktop environment with a conventional GUI.  I definitely missed the much simpler Gnome from the old Red Hat days!

      I guessed that the XFCE desktop (used in Xubuntu), the KDE desktop, and the Mate & Cinnamon used in Mint would be the most “Windows like” in terms of layout.

      The cool thing about Linux is that you can mix and match just about any desktop environment with any core Linux distro.  Many distros already have the various desktop flavors available for download with the installer.  Just try out the live version, then pick one you like.

      If you are buying or building a new PC, your perspective will be different from those trying to redeploy older hardware.  If you are running new hardware, you can put any Linux on it and chances are it will outperform Windows.  But if you are stuck with an old PC, then something like Puppy Linux, Xubuntu, or one of the other lighter desktops might work better for you.

      Anyway, to summarize why I use and would recommend Linux Mint for anybody with a reasonably modern PC is this.  It just works.  You can install it and just about everything you need is already there, graphic drivers, network drivers, sound drivers, etc.  You can easily add apps from the Mint repository.  No need to go to the command line – but you can if you want to!  🙂

      If you search online for the history of Linux, you will find that the Linux tree has grown into several branches for the main distros.  These are the top 10 http://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=major

      Many of the multitude have their roots in one of the major distros.  For instance Fedora and CentOS is based on Red Hat.  Ubuntu is based on Debian, and Mint is based on Debian and Ubuntu.

      I seriously considered Debian and Fedora, and tried them with various desktops.  But I found it troublesome to search for and install things that were already just there in Mint and Ubuntu.  I do like Xubuntu, but I have always had to tweak it from a command line to make it usable for me.  Personal preference, I guess.  But Mint?  Just load and go 🙂

      Windows 10 Pro 22H2

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      • #100949

        I’vr heard good things about Peppermint OS (out of Mint out of Ubuntu out of Debian 🙂 ) in terms of its “load and go” experience. Supposed to be fairly snappy on old hardware, too; I’ll have to try it on my old distro-testbed PC sometime.

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    • #100946

      I don’t really “use” Linux.  I do have a computer that is exclusively Linux, but it doesn’t get turned on as much as it used to.  After trying quite a few distros, and different DE within a distro, I settled on Mint/Cinnamon, for several of the reasons JohnW pointed out.

      It is load and go if your expectations aren’t set too high.  I even had it on a laptop for a while, everything worked.

      I also had Solus/Budgie on that laptop for a while, and it too had everything working out of the box without a hitch.  I actually like that distro, but it’s fairly new and still needs some work in the customization and software departments.

      At this point and time, I’m not really recommending Linux to anybody.

       

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      • #100965

        I think the bottom line here is that nobody buys a computer for the OS (unless you are truly a geek, LOL!)

        It is the available applications that we use to do important stuff that really matters to us.  The OS is just the plumbing that allows us to run the applications.

        Just consider the smartphone platforms that are struggling, or have died, due to lack of popular developer and consumer support!  And conversely, look at the success of iOS and Android apps.

        Linux is a great model for a well designed OS.  But what desktop Linux really lacks is the momentum of a commercial applications market.

        Meanwhile the Linux server market is kicking butt and taking names!!!  It is eating the world 🙂

        Many large companies like IBM and others have invested heavily in support of Linux as a mainstream server OS.

        So a great proven OS platform is available, but will end users and developers migrate to it with enough numbers to shift the playing field???  Not if MS can do anything about it, LOL!!!

        Windows 10 Pro 22H2

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        • #101163

          I think the bottom line here is that nobody buys a computer for the OS (unless you are truly a geek, LOL!)

          About a year ago I bought a computer for the OS! I bought a brand new Dell Windows 7 Pro desktop computer with a Haswell CPU. I wanted Windows 7 with as new a computer as I could get. I knew that I might get bit by the Skylake bug if I went with Windows 7, so I went with a Haswell CPU while they were still available (Broadwell CPUs weren’t available). That computer is now dual boot with Xubuntu, and I rarely go to the Windows side any more, except when I can’t do something in Linux, or just to stay up to date on Windows updates.

          Linux is a great model for a well designed OS. But what desktop Linux really lacks is the momentum of a commercial applications market.

          This is why I have chosen a Ubuntu variant. Canonical seems to be the most promising organization for development and support for Linux. I thought that Red Hat would take off, but it doesn’t seem to have. Or maybe it has, and we haven’t heard about it.

          I thought that Suse Linux would take off when Novell bet the farm on it. But Novell was in a death spiral by that time, so that is probably why Novell Suse never caught on.

          Group "L" (Linux Mint)
          with Windows 10 running on a separate hard drive
    • #101030

      Another vote for Linux Mint Cinnamon here.

      I tried a number of distros on for size… Kubuntu (Ubuntu with KDE), Lubuntu, Mint Mate, Mint KDE, Mint Cinnamon, OpenSUSE (I wanted to see what a non-Ubuntu distro would look like).  Of all of the desktop environments, I liked Cinnamon the best (by a pretty wide margin), and given that Cinnamon is a part of the Mint project, that seemed like a good place to get it.

      Mint’s goals also align with my own, so it was a great fit.  Mint is about preserving the traditional desktop UI rather than following GNOME 3 down the same garden path as Unity and Windows 10 (that is, trying to make one UI for desktops and touch devices).  It’s based on GNOME 3, but with the wacky touch stuff backed out and replaced with a desktop UI that does one thing and does it well rather than two things poorly.  The X project (a recent addition to Mint) aims to fork many GNOME programs and develop them in parallel with their hamburger menu’d counterparts, but with the desktop UI put back in.

      The other big point with Mint is stability.  Ubuntu has earned a reputation as not having the best stability; this was certainly consistent with my experiences with Kubuntu.  The installer (which boots into a live session of Kubuntu from the removable media first) kept crashing, and it took quite a few tries to get it to install before it went kernel panicky again.

      I finally got it installed, but it was no better than on the live session.  I posted on one of the Ubuntu sites about it, and got a suggestion to try a new video driver… but for the absolute beginner that I was, I would have had to bypass the dire warnings on several sites about the dangers of downloading the drivers from Nvidia and trying to install them.  I tried anyway, but it didn’t work, and I ended up trying Mint KDE instead.

      It worked perfectly.  It wasn’t until later on that I learned Ubuntu had gotten sort of a reputation for being less stable than other distros.  Mint (being a derivative of Ubuntu) addresses this by waiting and watching after an update (to one of the OS components or otherwise) to see if it is stable or not, much like Woody’s MS-DEFCON system. It’s even on a 5-point scale, though in reverse.

      Updates that are judged by Mint to be most likely to destabilize the system are given a 5; those that are the safest are given a 1.  By default, Mint will select for installation updates that are rated 3 or less, but you can always change that threshold, or else you could manually select the 4 or 5 rated updates as desired.  Setting the threshold to 5 (always select every update for installation as soon as it comes out) matches what an equivalent Ubuntu installation would have done (it does not use the numbering system).

      Mint, thus, became a frontrunner in my distro selection, but I began to question whether KDE was the best desktop environment.  While I much enjoyed the wealth of customization options KDE offered, something about KDE didn’t sit right with me.  The main (start) menu seemed fiddly with its three tabs or pages, and some of the function of the panel (taskbar) bugged me too, but neither of those was as bad as what to me is a cardinal sin of UIs… inconsistency.

      Many Linux programs use GTK+ (Gnome Toolkit) to draw the UI (like Firefox), and that meant to make the GTK+ programs and the native KDE (Qt) programs look the same, I had to have the identical theme for both toolkits installed in the OS (so any work theming and coloring the UI to my liking had to be done twice with unrelated theme formats)… and even if that is done, there’s the annoying reversal of the cancel and OK buttons in GNOME.  If it’s consistent within the OS, I can adapt (though I still don’t like it), but having different programs within the same OS behaving differently and flipping the buttons around… was really irritating.  I hit “cancel” when I meant “ok” or the reverse more times than I could count.

      UI consistency is a must for me.  I absolutely loathe the discontinuity of Windows 10 when you’re tooling around the OS on your desktop PC, using the traditional Win32 UI, when suddenly some horrible, ugly, flat UWP abomination appears, with all of its childish-looking, oversized sliders and controls.  It’s jarringly dissimilar to the rest of the OS, and I really dislike it.  It offends me on at least three levels in Windows 10!

      I can’t avoid UWP “design language” bits completely in 10, since MS seems to have randomly replaced Win32 dialogs with UWP ones (like the Personalize menu you get when you select personalize on the desktop, which then calls another Win32 dialog when you hit the themes button… why is that UWP thing sandwiched in there between the Win32 bits?  It’s not like that in 8), but I can fix the discontinuity in Linux by adopting a GNOME derivative like Cinnamon.

      I tried MATE and Cinnamon, and while the two are similar, Cinnamon really felt like “it” to me.  I’d have to dig a little deeper to customize it than I would have with KDE, but that was ok.

      I never got around to trying XFCE, but by then I liked Cinnamon so much that I didn’t feel like trying anything else.

      Mint, being an Ubuntu derivative, benefits from the enormous knowledge base out there in net land, with the vast majority of hints and tips written about Ubuntu being relevant to Mint as well.  The same applies to software repositories and PPAs, which makes it very easy to get most Linux software and keep it up-to-date.  It’s Ubuntu when that is what I want, and not Ubuntu when it’s not (like with Unity).

      Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
      XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/32GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
      Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11)

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      • #101064

        Wow– that’s the clearest explanation of the Mint updates & stability approach that I’ve ever read! Much appreciated.

        Doing some cursory experiments with the Xfce desktop I’m using right now (flipping through different combos of theme and window manager decorations), Firefox and a bunch of other programs appear to have consistent UI styling. That includes VLC, with a Qt-based interface, and K3B, KDE’s disc burning tool. It probably helps that Xfce uses its own window manager, Xfwm. I have observed some interface duality in Lubuntu, which uses Openbox (whose settings are cheerfully ignored by Firefox, et alia.)

        I haven’t noticed that Cancel/OK position reversal– but, I haven’t had access to hardware capable of running the heavier KDE interface. Do you recall any of the applications that would show that up? I can currently check for that misbehavior on LXDE, Lxqt, and Xfce.

        Yeah, the Nvidia stuff can be a hassle. I recently converted my main tower from 32-bit to 64-bit Xubuntu, and the screen kept going to black, randomly! Luckily I was able to get it off the generic driver and onto a proprietary Nvidia driver before it drove me (more) insane.

    • #101120

      I’m using Slackware 14.2 for a couple of reasons. Before I retired in 2002, I did a lot of work with Unix and Linux systems. Slackware is close enough to those that I can get back into it with an easier learning curve.

      Second, I’m retired, and the computing budget isn’t a priority. I can still run the 32 bit version on the Sony Pentium 4 that used to run RedHat 7.0 (and later Win XP), as well as on a modern, but lightweight Dell dual core laptop, running 64 bit. I like having multiple machines set up the same way.

      Pale Moon blew up in KDE (it doesn’t like the Oxygen theme, I’m told), so I’m on XFCE. Works for me.

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    • #101889

      I use Mint Cinnamon, and it’s the only one I will probably ever use.  Without taking the time to try a variety of distros, I spent a few months reading reviews in various places to determine which of them was most popular, and why.  I wanted to give just the one version my best shot, rather than dividing my efforts among several, maybe never sticking with one long enough to actually get good at using it.  Also, I think that if Linux is going to have any chance at competing with Microsoft, not even beating them, but just holding their own ground, then they need a little more focus.  Too many distros is a distraction.  The average non-techie user is not attracted by the variety.  It looks more like a confusing mess to someone who has always lived with the surety of a universally recognized OS.  Hence, I decided to throw my support to the distro that already had the highest standing in the Linux community as my meager contribution toward tipping the scales against Microsoft.

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    • #101909

      Simce around 2012 we tried different distros on a two tier strategy, in a VM and then on a test PC if it made the cut. One of my pet hates was installing a distro and finding bloat apps that would never be used only to spend time removing and/ or replacing them.

      We were looking for stability, low resources, power, functionality and compatibility between legacy and new hardware and a good support forum. We eventually homed in on a Hybrid LXDE Peppermint OS that has a great ethos of ‘keeping the distro minimal’ and leaving the choice of apps to the end-user after installation, keeping the iso to a minimal size.
      Peripherals were also an important factor in our decision as this OS picked up our legacy (2003) USB scanner that others could not, straight out the box!

      Firstly, we heavily secured, tweaked and modified the OS to our satisfaction upon lots of research at the time. We weren’t particularly fond of the default shell interface but with a bit of time and effort was modified using a chosen default minimalistic theme from within the OS (not downloaded) and downloaded icon sets which was fun at the time.
      I now spend more time and get more enjoyment from linux than I have done from windows over the last 3 years.

      Win8.1/R2 Hybrid lives on...
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      • #101980

        Simce around 2012 we tried different distros on a two tier strategy, in a VM and then on a test PC if it made the cut. One of my pet hates was installing a distro and finding bloat apps that would never be used only to spend time removing and/ or replacing them.

        Agreed. My approach to that flavor of distro has been to install it on a “toybox” pc and see what some of the unfamiliar applications were like. I’ve found a few alternatives and worthy supplementals that way– but I then would install just that new find on my much leaner “production” linux machine.

        We were looking for stability, low resources, power, functionality and compatibility between legacy and new hardware and a good support forum. We eventually homed in on a Hybrid LXDE Peppermint OS that has a great ethos of ‘keeping the distro minimal’ and leaving the choice of apps to the end-user after installation, keeping the iso to a minimal size. Peripherals were also an important factor in our decision as this OS picked up our legacy (2003) USB scanner that others could not, straight out the box!

        From everything I’ve heard, Peppermint OS has got to be the next distro I try out on the toybox pc.

        I now spend more time and get more enjoyment from linux than I have done from windows over the last 3 years.

        Heh. During the GWX debacle, and the era of interminable waits for Win7 updates, I would calm myself by rebooting into a ‘buntu partition and running updates. Within a couple of minutes. And without worrying about PUPs being installed by the OS provider.

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        • #102002

          Agreed. My approach to that flavor of distro has been to install it on a “toybox” pc and see what some of the unfamiliar applications were like. I’ve found a few alternatives and worthy supplementals that way– but I then would install just that new find on my much leaner “production” linux machine.

          Exactly how I found the apps I use and the ones to avoid, try before you replace 🙂

          From everything I’ve heard, Peppermint OS has got to be the next distro I try out on the toybox pc.

          It’s well worth a try but, as with most distros a bit of research and tweaking is needed to achieve what YOU want. Great tips and walkthroughs submitted by users and moderators on their Forums

          Edit: One of the biggest bonuses in Peppermint OS is the Mint Updater which IMHO is the best thing about Linux Mint

          Win8.1/R2 Hybrid lives on...
        • #103341

          From everything I’ve heard, Peppermint OS has got to be the next distro I try out on the toybox pc.

          A quick note… Trying to install Peppermint 7 from a usb stick prepared by unetbootin produced an unbootable partition. I finally got Peppermint 7 to install by burning its iso image to a dvd and installing from there. I haven’t tried alternate methods of preparing the usb stick.

    • #101951

      I haven’t noticed that Cancel/OK position reversal– but, I haven’t had access to hardware capable of running the heavier KDE interface.

      KDE has them what I consider to be the “normal” way, which is to say that OK is on the left and Cancel is on the right, like Windows.  You listed them in the opposite order above, so perhaps the GNOME way is normal to you.

      There’s been a big debate about this in Ux circles, I guess.  My thought on it is this:  When you ask someone for a “yes or no,” that’s the order they come in.  “No or yes” just sounds odd, like you’re trying to lead them to say no, whereas “yes or no” has no such loaded meaning.  If you ask if someone is Ok or not, again, OK is first, not is second.

      Since we read left to right, to me that means that OK or YES should be on the left (so we read it first) and NO or CANCEL should be on the right, so we read it last.

      GNOME has them in the opposite order, so anything that uses GNOME as a base or GTK+ likely does too.  Cinnamon is like this throughout… even though it’s all backwards to me, at least it’s consistently so.  When I ran Firefox from KDE, I had to catch myself before I hit the wrong button in Firefox (the most-used GTK+ program for me), since I was used to the KDE/Windows way.

      Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
      XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/32GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
      Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11)

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      • #101985

        KDE has them what I consider to be the “normal” way, which is to say that OK is on the left and Cancel is on the right, like Windows. You listed them in the opposite order above, so perhaps the GNOME way is normal to you.

        Heh. I suspect that’s more a matter of my being slower and less efficient at using a UI than the power users who frequent this lounge. Also, your post included the phrase “annoying reversal of the cancel and OK buttons” so I probably just echoed the last sequence that I read. 🙂

        There’s been a big debate about this in Ux circles, I guess. My thought on it is this: When you ask someone for a “yes or no,” that’s the order they come in. “No or yes” just sounds odd, like you’re trying to lead them to say no, whereas “yes or no” has no such loaded meaning. If you ask if someone is Ok or not, again, OK is first, not is second. Since we read left to right, to me that means that OK or YES should be on the left (so we read it first) and NO or CANCEL should be on the right, so we read it last. GNOME has them in the opposite order, so anything that uses GNOME as a base or GTK+ likely does too. Cinnamon is like this throughout… even though it’s all backwards to me, at least it’s consistently so. When I ran Firefox from KDE, I had to catch myself before I hit the wrong button in Firefox (the most-used GTK+ program for me), since I was used to the KDE/Windows way.

        Your take on it makes perfect sense to me. I think I’ve gotten away without noticing it before, because of my “inefficiency,” as I facetiously (but not entirely so) noted above.

        Okay, so Firefox is a prime place to look for that dialog-box button reversal. I’ve already found a few other applications under both Xfce and LXDE that revert to Gnomish window decorations, ignoring the general theming. Easy examples are any apps with installation package names starting with “gnome-“, like the gnome-disk-utility (“Disks,” generally found under Settings or System in the menus.)

    • #101970

      I have been using and recommending Kubuntu.  LXQT (ExTiX distro)  looks promising for lower-power PCs too.  Gnome-based distros are usually too funky in the UI, buttons can be backwards, an annoying feeling of “I should be able to do this, but how?” kind of like working on OSx  and seem slower than KDE on most hardware I’ve tried.  I have an old P4 single-core 2Ghz laptop with <1GB RAM (some taken by video) running Kubuntu 14.04 happily.

      I have tried Mint KDE and XFCE but Mint has some annoying flaws that are showstoppers for basic users.  For example, adding software (ie. Chrome) or repository (ie. GetDeb) from outside of Mint uses the Mint version name in the .list files in /etc/apt so, the software cannot update or be installed and you get errors on your next system updates.  You have to manually edit the .list files created by the software or repository  and use the Ubuntu version name eg. “trusty” where the mint name is eg. “serena”.

      Not smooth and very annoying.

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      • #101990

        The demos I’ve seen of the KDE interface have been very impressive. Unluckily, none of my ragtag fleet of obsolete hand-me-down PCs have been up to running it. Someday…

        However, I do take the penalty of installing a bunch of KDE dependencies, in order to get access to applications such as K3B on other ‘buntu distros.

        I hadn’t heard of that Mint quirk before. Yeah, that would be awkward to support on my end users’ machines. I guess the goal is to keep Mint users installing only Mint-vetted applications, but sheesh! Sometimes I want a piece of software that’s a little closer to the bleeding edge, and I’m willing to accept the risks.

        • #103140

          KDE dependencies –

          You might want to try LXQT.  It uses QT which is what KDE uses but is much lighter.  This way you should not need as many KDE dependencies to run KDE software.

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          • #103337

            Yep, I have a Sparkylinux with LXQT on the multiboot toybox pc. It has a lot of the charm of LXDE, but definitely feels not quite finished yet. As its developers acknowledge, still keeping its release number at zero point something.

            So far, my Xfce machines, and one lubuntu, don’t show any perceptible impairment from the bits of KDE pulled in by installing K3B (and on some of them, KPatience and KMahjongg.) We’ll see if that changes if I get a chance to try the Krita paint program.

    • #102064

      Xubuntu strikes an excellent balance between modern and lightweight. The look is simple and elegant, customization is easy, stability is rock solid. I run LTS versions. I’ve been running it for years and have never been tripped up by a bad update. New versions are conservative refinements and won’t leave you scratching your head. Xubuntu came into its own as a refuge for users who didn’t care for Unity and KDE, and the ethos is of modest and sensible UI tweaking while keeping the under-the-hood parts up to date.

      One of our developers experienced crashes until he installed a proprietary video driver, but I’ve seen very few cases where that has been necessary. A user confronting that situation should avoid downloading a driver and running an install routine; better to click Settings > Additional hardware, then let the OS detect if a proprietary driver is available and install through that UI. This has worked just fine in the few cases I’ve encountered.

      Earlier on, I liked Gnome 2.x but never warmed to Unity. I lost interest in KDE with 4.x as it runs slowly even on newer hardware and is difficult to customize. Xubuntu is polite in that it just runs my applications and otherwise stays out of the way. The CPU executes instructions based on what I’d like to do, not what corporate overlords want to know about me.

      It’s perfectly happy on older hardware. Here at work we have a number of desktops with Gigabyte GA-MA74GM-S2 system boards. They are totally bombproof but are a little slow for Win7 these days. The onboard video (Radeon HD2100) is not supported in Win8x or 10. They run Xubuntu just fine. I’m using somewhat newer hardware, but I mention it as an example of a modern OS running happily on silicon that in the Windows world is a donation candidate.

      And try doing this with Windows: You can move a hard drive to a dissimilar system and almost always, everything works on the first boot: video, sound etc. (Full disclosure: VirtualBox has tripped over that change, but it’s easily fixed.) And may I mention that you never have to worry about activation complications.

      Of course we have Linux fanboys, but one forum post strikes me as probably true, a claim that the Linux kernel is 5-7 years ahead of Windows. Being low maintenance is a virtue in an OS, yes?

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      • #103351

        And try doing this with Windows: You can move a hard drive to a dissimilar system and almost always, everything works on the first boot: video, sound etc. (Full disclosure: VirtualBox has tripped over that change, but it’s easily fixed.) And may I mention that you never have to worry about activation complications.

        From the days before the Lounge, here’s my anecdote on that disk-transplant trick…

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #103359

          I haven’t tried a Windows drive transplant for several years, but it would generally work if the old system was still running and you could change the storage driver to generic IDE before moving the drive. Once the new system is running, you’d have to install drivers for video, sound etc. In my case the transplant was only to salvage files from a flaky PC and the Frankenstein machine would be put to rest when that process finished.

          These days we just use a USB SATA dock to recover files, and it’s usually connected to an Xubuntu PC because we don’t get “access denied” errors when copying out of the user profile.

          Even though the drive swap has worked seamlessly in Linux, I wouldn’t make a habit of it. I have this weird idea that an OS should be installed on the hardware it will be running on.

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